Coffee with: Literacy Alberni’s Richard Girling

Literacy Alberni’s Richard Girling, 29, was born in the town of Chelmsford, Essex County, England, a town about the same size as Nanaimo.

Outgoing Literacy Alberni director Richard Girling is a glass half full kind of guy

Some people live to work for the benefit of others, and through that benefit find balance and satisfaction.

Literacy Alberni’s Richard Girling, 29, was born in the town of Chelmsford, Essex County, England, a town about the same size as Nanaimo, he said.

Girling is one of six children, and has two brothers and three sisters. “I’m the second of six,” the married father of two said.

Girling attended elementary and high school in Suffolk, England. His favourite subjects were German and English and his favourite teacher was Mr. Heath, who taught German.

“He was a younger, energetic person that as young people we could relate to,” Girling said. “He made learning fun and inspired us to do well.”

Growing up, Girling didn’t want to be a digger man or a bus driver, and in later years he never aspired to be a doctor or lawyer. Instead, he wanted to do something to make the world a better place, he said.

He studied German and English at the University of Durham after graduating from high school then worked in Austria as part of a placement program for one year afterward.

Girling moved to Poland afterward. He taught English during the day but also learned Polish at the same time to quench his growing thirst with other languages.

It was during his stay in Poland that Girling’s events took a turn that would alter his life forever.

He would meet his bride-to-be Erin, who was staying with her brother in Poland. “I guess you could call it a random geography tale,” Girling said.

The pair moved to London, then to Florida for two years where they operated a yoga studio and vegetarian café.

The pair wanted more of a family life but couldn’t do it working 80 hours a week at their business so they planned a move.

Erin is originally from Victoria so they decided on the Island and settled on Port Alberni after finding a listing on craigslist.com. The two arrived in 2009.

The Valley seemed more remote than they thought at first; something that Girling changed his mind about later. “I enjoy being surrounded by nature and Sproat Lake so it was a good decision to move here,” he said.

He worked for a marketing company the first year he was here, but kept his interest in language satiated by tutoring at the literacy centre. “It can be different living in a new system even when you speak the language,” Girling said. “I understood that from living in Poland.”

Literacy is a core value of Girling’s. “It means reading and writing, but it’s also the ability to understand information,” he said. “If you improve your literacy skills it will benefit you for the rest of your life,” he said.

Girling has been the executive director of Literacy Alberni for the last two years but that’s about to change.

He’s leaving the position to pursue a masters degree. His last day of work is on June 1.

Girling’s greatest inspiration was his father Jonathan, who was a selfless man, he said. “I remember watching how much he enjoyed watching other people enjoy it,” Girling said.

“I still enjoy it when we get together but it’s harder now that we’re spread out.”

He’s reading Steve Jobbs: A Biography, and his favourite book is Animal Farm. “You notice things in the book that are in the world around you,” Girling said.

Girling watches movies several times a week, and counts Shawshank Redemption and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

“I like movies with irony in them,” he said.

If he could visit another time period it would be before the West Coast was colonized. “Mistakes were made and it would be nice to go back and do things differently,” he said.

The best advice Girling knows of isn’t something he was told but rather something he learned on his own. “Try not to get too frustrated by the things you can’t change,” he said. “People spend a lot of time stressing over the things they can’t change.”

Girling has sought to make the world a better place and in his own way he has, he said. “So long as I’m doing that I’ll be happy.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

ACTIVE LIVING: Eating well builds a healthy immune system

Port Alberni registered dietitian Sandra Gentleman writes about health issues

ALBERNI GOLF: Golf club hosts mixed couples tournament

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament was limited to 48 players, members only

ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre hosts last workshop of the summer

Find out how you can support the Community Arts Council through COVID-19

EDITORIAL: Connect the Quays a key concept for tourism

Pathway could be a tourism gem for City of Port Alberni

Port Alberni artist pens dystopian novel

Haven Hold by Shelley Penner is set to debut on August 25

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

Most Read